As the world continues to recover from the Coronavirus, we're all finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory given the subsequent lockdown that is keeping us off of stages and confined to our homes. Luckily, there's comfort in the fact that we're all in this together, and that there are still many outlets for us musicians to keep us active and sane throughout this quarantine. We're checking in with bass players from all over the world to see what they're doing to stay entertained, healthy, productive, and safe during this trying time.
Bassist: Adam Nitti
Bands & Artists: Kenny Loggins, Dave Weckl Band, Susan Tedeschi, Steven Curtis Chapman, Carrie Underwood, The Bottom 40, Solo artist
Home: Nashville, Tennessee
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Ironically, the lockdown—which eliminated virtually all of my work—ended up allowing me to be more musically productive than before it started. Being stuck at home has given me uninterrupted time to work on finishing my new album, which had been subject to many delays due to sideman commitments. I’ve been practicing upright bass in an effort to get myself performance-ready. I’ve had more time to work on the restoration of a vintage Alfa Romeo I acquired a year ago, which is another passion of mine. Outside of that, I’ve enjoyed being able to spend more time with family and slow down, in general. I’m taking a break from social media, trying to reserve my online time for work-related communication and staying in touch with out-of-town family members. Make no mistake; it has been sobering dealing with the significant loss in income, but I’ve tried to remain level-headed and maintain a state of gratitude for the positive things it has afforded us.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice
Because I’m in heavy album-production mode right now, much of what would typically be bass practice time for me has been temporarily replaced by compositional and arrangement work. Having said that, I always push myself on the bass when I’m recording parts for my records, so I’ve had to shed many of those bass lines. Fortunately, being able to connect with students online has kept me on top of concepts and exercises. Playing other instruments has been key, as well. In addition to practicing upright bass, I’ve been practicing guitar. This became necessary when I decided to play most of the guitar parts on my upcoming record. Although I left most of the guitar solos to the professionals, I played 90% of the rhythm parts and even a few solos. Last but not least, I’m singing on the record, so this will be my first project as a lead vocalist.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
About seven or so years ago, I dove hard into vinyl and started rebuilding a collection. It has been fun to collect influential rock records from my youth and listen to them with a fresh and more experienced perspective—stuff like Rush, Yes, The Doobie Brothers, Boston, and Led Zeppelin. The bass lines stand out even more to me now, and I’m hearing entirely new nuances in tone, technique, and feel that I never noticed before. Some other albums I’ve been enjoying recently are Ole Børud’s Outside the Limit, Donny Hathaways Live, Trevor Rabin’s Can't Look Away, The Funky Knuckles’ Delicious, Lettuce’s Fly, and Arch Echo’s You Won't Believe What Happens Next!
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
Since I've been in album recording mode, I’ve been using a variety of basses: Ibanez ANB205 5-string, ANB306 6-string, custom ANB205 fretless 5-string, ’76 Fender Jazz Bass, and ’71 Fender Precision—all strung with D'Addario NYXLs, except for D'Addario Half Rounds on the fretless. My recording signal chain has three simultaneous lines, which I blend depending on the color I’m going for. The first line is straight out of an old Eclair Engineering Evil Twin tube DI. I connect the through of the Evil Twin to the input of my Aguilar DB680 preamp, which then runs into a TubeTech CL1B compressor; that’s my second line. The third line comes straight out of an Aguilar Tone Hammer, which I use for an overdriven signal. A cool piece I’ve recently acquired is the GR Bass Pure Drive pedal. It’s a combination preamp/overdrive/DI, and the overdrive sounds fantastic.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been into martial arts for many years, which has not only been a practical source of self-defense training, but also a serious routine for staying in great shape. When the lockdown started, my martial arts school’s classes were forced to transition to online, so I got into a home routine, setting up in my garage with the computer and training gear in front of me, following my instructors. Although this sort of “dry training” has it’s obvious limitations for working with partners practicing specific techniques, it still provides plenty of the cardio and endurance
challenges and it allows me to focus on some more subtle details. As for shows and movies, I'm kind of a sci-fi nut. However, I think I’ve already seen all of the sci-fi movies and shows available through our streaming service, so I’m having to find genre alternatives.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
My new record is the priority to complete. I have a bass solo record planned that I’ve already started work on. I also have a long list of unfinished projects that need my attention, such as a bass improv method book, a bass technique improvement book, and some new video series for my edu site [www.adamnittimusiceducation.com].
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I’ve learned that the better I feel spiritually, physically, and emotionally, the more positive I generally am, and the easier it is for me to bounce back from tribulations and challenges. It’s especially difficult right now because of our forced physical disconnection from family, friends, and colleagues—especially for us creative types, we can often carry our burdens deeper than the average not-as-artistic person. For those of us who pray and/or meditate regularly, it’s a tremendous source of positivity and it helps to create endurance through challenging times. As one who struggles with the distractions of trying to work at home, I’ve found that building my daily life around a structured, effective routine helps me maintain focus and a sense of purpose, which I so desperately need in order to thrive. Exercising regularly and trying to eat right has also been incredibly helpful in terms of increasing my energy and morale. Lastly, we are fortunate that we have our music to pour into. Some of the most amazing music has been born from tremendous hardship and stories of pain and difficulty. Music offers us a way to communicate directly to the soul, even if there aren’t any lyrics, and it can help to calm the storms inside of us. I’m especially grateful for that gift.
Read all 100+ Bass Magazine Check-in Features: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi